HR and Tech Workers Are a Few World's Apart

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2010-02-12 Print this article Print

Human Resources and technology workers are not on the same page when it comes to what motivates them, according to the February Dice Report. The monthly technology job board's look at a major issue for technology personnel highlights the elephant in the room: Compensation.

When asked to rank the "impediments to enhancing the motivation of your technology team," the leading response from HR participants polled was that the IT group has no impediments because they need no motivation. That sounds good on paper, but given that the second ranking response from HR was compensation freezes and small raises, it appears HR cannot completely deny the elephant's existence.

I imagine you can guess what ranked the highest for tech workers... Yup, it was compensation.

Why the discrepancy? First, HR knows that the job market for technology, while improving a little bit lately, is still an employer's market and will be for some time. Secondly, because salaries are down across the board for technology workers, it doesn't serve HR well to admit there are any issues. Admitting there may be motivational problems would be admitting things are negative culturally, and that is not the image HR wants perceived in the marketplace while trying to attract new, top talent.

Lastly, there are those workers who focus on being good employees and going the extra mile whether there are raises coming or not. For some, it's not difficult to understand that most businesses are not taking in the revenue they were a few years ago. When business suffers, so does compensation, and HR and management can use that to say, hey, remember all those layoffs last year? Please focus on doing your job and whatever we throw your way. Some workers get this vibe quickly and keep their compensation woes to themselves. And, there are those workers who have been told they will be seeing a raise this year, however, it will be modest.

The implied problem, however, is in retaining employees. If last year was all about cost-cutting, this year is all about feeling rewarded. If last year was about holding on to your job, this year is about being compensated for taking on more and more and finding work elsewhere if the opportunity presents itself.

Tom Silver, VP at Dice, put it this way in the report:

Tech leaders understand the ramifications of all this.They're the ones who deal with frustration and weariness along with data centers and development projects. They're also the ones under pressure to deliver on those recently resurrected projects while keeping an eye on costs. What they may recognize, more so than even their colleagues in Human Resources, is that fatigue manifests itself in many ways, including a desire for higher pay and the possibility for a work place change. And, more than their HR colleagues, they're the ones who will most feel the pain if talented professionals "vote with their feet" to pursue more promising opportunities at other companies.

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